Before getting too far into this week’s lectionary passage from Ephesians, let’s pause for a bit of poetry from Robert Frost:
And so, with that as background, let’s now consider the words of the Ephesian writer:
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. –Ephesians 2:11-22 NRSV
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Nature itself conspires to tear down the wall between the two neighbors. One, the narrator, appears to see little need or use for the wall–except, perhaps, as an excuse to spend time with his neighbor on the other side of the wall. The neighbor, however, not only accepts that the wall exists but draws on his father’s “wisdom” that it should be continually repaired because “good fences make good neighbors.”We humans like our privacy, or at the very least we are more comfortable with our separateness. The downside is that even our neighbors can easily become “the other.” And there are many forces at work to persuade us that “the other” is to be kept “over there” and not to be trusted. To be at all different, to be something other than just like me (“our kind”) then there’s a problem to be dealt with.
The writer of the Ephesian letter addresses this so-called problem directly: Christ tears down the wall, thus changing strangers and foreigners and aliens into brothers and sisters in Christ.
No, good fences don’t necessarily make good neighbors. Just because a wall has stood in its place for a long time doesn’t mean it should remain. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. Maybe that “something” is what God has done in Christ Jesus.
*Originally appeared in 2012 ForeWords
- Chosen to be Holy (ising4god.com)
- Paul’s Words To The Ephesian Church And Others (nancysjourney.wordpress.com)
- Daily Devotion from the Church Health Center – Ephesians 2:19-22 (panoramicviews.wordpress.com)
- Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians: Chapter XII. – Praise of the Ephesians. (restart.typepad.com)
- Pentecost 7 – “God’s Blessings” (Ephesians 1:3-14) (revtucher.com)
- 7/15/2012 Set Your Hope on Christ (richbrownforewords.wordpress.com)